Some sidewalks left a mushy mess after plows push heavy snow off streets, onto curbs

Pedestrians cope with splashback at bus stops

DENVER - Even on a sunny, dry day, it’s not the most comfortable feeling waiting for a bus on the narrow sidewalks along busy Hampden Avenue, near the Happy Canyon Shopping Center in Denver.

It’s even less so after a major snow storm, when snow plows push snow off the street and onto the sidewalk.

7NEWS crews observed one RTD customer standing on a bus bench trying to stay dry, and observed several others dodging splash back from passing cars.

“The slushy water freezes and gets into your shoes,” said Delano Zamora. “It freezes your toes.”

RTD says it’s responsible for clearing snow out of its rectangular Plexiglas sided bus shelters.

Spokesman Scott Reed said contractors are responsible for clearing snow out of bus stop shelters with advertising.

7NEWS found that the shelters along Hampden Avenue had been shoveled, but snow plows had pushed snow back onto the sidewalk in front of them.

Passengers boarding or getting off some buses had to climb up over a mound of snow to do so.

At bus stops with a simple bench on the sidewalk, it’s generally the property owner’s responsibility to clear the sidewalk, even if snow plows pushed the snow up on the curb.

Denver Public Works spokeswoman Ann Williams told 7NEWS that plow operators are sensitive to the concerns of pedestrians, but sometimes, when there is a great deal of snow, some of it ends up on a sidewalk even after it’s been shoveled.

Both Williams and Denver Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Andrea Burns told 7NEWS that it’s a property owner’s responsibility to clear their sidewalk after a snow storm.

“Residents have 24 hours and business owners have 4 hours to clear sidewalks after the snow stops,” Burns said.

She said the city will work with property owners to come into compliance.

“Our goal is to just make sure that it’s safe for pedestrians,” she said.

 

Not every bus stop has a bench or a sidewalk.

Soledad Rosas spent 30 minutes waiting for a bus on South University Boulevard near East Quincy Avenue Monday afternoon.

She stood 20 feet back from the street to keep from getting splashed and was still hit with slush three or four times.

Rosas simply pulled out a hanky, wiped her forehead and stepped back a couple more feet.

 

It wasn’t just pedestrians struggling with snow..

The sound of spinning tires could be heard in neighborhoods all across the metro area, as motorists who had parked curbside tried to cut through the mounds of snow left behind by plows.

“I ended up missing work today,” said Mark Taylor. “I couldn’t get my car out and had to wait for it to get warmer. My partner helped me push the car out so we could get moving.”

Taylor said the city should try to help motorists whose cars get blocked in by piles of snow left by the plows.

But city officials tell 7NEWS there has been a trade-off.

Williams said that years ago, the city had Snow Routes and forbade parking on major arterials after a storm, so plows could clear from curb to curb.

She said so many cars ended up getting towed and so many people complained about the towing fees that the city did away with Snow Routes.

“We asked if they’d rather pay the tow fee or dig their car out and they said they’d rather dig their car out," she said.

Now, the city just plows the driving lanes of major streets, and if the storms big enough, the driving lanes of neighborhood streets.

Sunshine dramatically reduced the size of the snow mounds late Monday, but cold temperatures overnight will turn a lot of the slush into ice which is expected to present another challenge to pedestrians and motorists.